Jessica's Reviews > Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!

Ling & Ting by Grace Lin
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's review
Jan 15, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: independent-reader, children
Read in January, 2011

For an easy reader/independent reader, Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same is great! The reason I say that is that independent readers tend not to have much in terms of complexity. They're very straightforward with an extremely simple and often formulaic plot. There are, of course, plenty of exceptions, and Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same is one of them. Broken into several very short chapters, the stories can stand alone, but also build upon each other. I think that the subtitle, "Not Exactly the Same!" is perhaps a wink to the idea that Asian Americans "all look same," even though the book is about twins and them being the same on the outside, but very different inside.

Ling is the very literal and well-behaved twin, while Ting is the fidgety and forgetful one. The illustrations are really simple and cute. In short, this is a really perfect independent reader--not too complex, but not boring. I have a feeling that it has child appeal as well, although I haven't road tested it, so to speak.

As a Chinese-American, I had a few problems with Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same. I know that Grace Lin writes a lot of books dealing with Chinese-American themes, but it bothered me nevertheless. They're small annoyances, but here's what I had a slight problem with:
-The names. Ling and Ting? I know a lot of Chinese people (with Chinese names), but I do not know anyone named Ling OR Ting. Just because they're Chinese doesn't mean they have to have super stereotypical sounding names, does it? Why couldn't they have been Gina & Tina? May and Kay?
-There's a chapter called "chopsticks," in which Ling has trouble using chopsticks. After brainstorming possible solutions to her problem, she eventually decides, "I know! I'll just use a fork!" Is she implying that forks are superior to chopsticks? Then again, chopsticks ARE difficult for children to use.

Maybe I'm being hypersensitive, and it's not anything where I wouldn't want my own (hypothetical) children to read the book. I actually liked it quite a lot. It's just those two things that got to me, I guess.

2011 Geisel Honor Book
Grades 1-3
Great for children who are starting to read chapter books, but good for read-alouds, too (more one on one though)

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